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Decision to be made on second phase of The Forum

Published Friday, 1st November 2019

Artists rendition of how building will look in place

Members of the council’s development control committee will next week make a decision on the development of the second phase of The Forum.

An application for the new building was submitted by the council and South Essex College in July and following a detailed review process from planning officers, the application is set to be discussed at development control committee on Wednesday 6 November.

Following the success of The Forum, which opened in 2013 and was always intended to be a two phase build, ADP Architects developed plans to complete the educational quarter with a new ‘younger sibling’ building to The Forum. This was made possible following a successful bid for £20m funding won by the council from the Local Enterprise Partnership to support skills and growth within the Borough.

The development features a mix of accommodation that includes an expansion of the Focal Point Gallery, including contemporary and community art gallery space and artist studios, a café run by the college and open to the public, a new digital art hub, and a range of performance spaces for dance, acting, and music, and recording studios.

Plans also include a digital workspace which aims to deliver affordable workspace for local creative and digital businesses, provide affordable access to the latest digital arts equipment and will include co-working space, meeting pods, workstations, an editing suite and a seminar room.

Steve Smith, South Essex College’s Vice Principal, Corporate Resources said: “This is the next step of our exciting and ambitious plan to increase our popular digital, media, music and performing arts offer in Southend.

“The new building will not only benefit those studying at the college, but also the wider communities we serve with the creation of state-of-the-art facilities in the heart of the town.”

Cllr Kevin Robinson, cabinet member for business, culture and tourism, says: “A second phase to this site was always envisaged and so I am pleased that the planning application will be discussed by committee members next week.

“The mix of accommodation would, we believe, create a vibrant and lively environment that should enhance the town’s burgeoning educational quarter and also encourage the public and students to visit and use Elmer Square more.”

In February 2018, it was confirmed that £6m of funding had been awarded from the South Essex Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), with the council contributing £2.7m, and the college contributing the rest.

Subject to planning permission being granted, the scheme is due to complete in 2021.

The agenda item can be viewed in full on our Democracy pages.